Louisa (34) contacted me after seven unhappy years as a financial analyst. Having joined the world of finance as a post-graduate, she never felt at home but ‘got stuck there’. She recalled how an ex-partner encouraged her to stay in the finance sector and be more ambitious since it was a ‘good job’. Over time, Louisa lost track of what she actually wanted, and eventually her relationship broke up. Coming into contact with the Parachute helped her remember an important but long-forgotten pleasure – appreciating and observing what people wear: “I used to happily browse through magazines for hours and lose track of time pondering styles and fabrics. The other day I sat next to a woman on the train who was editing a fashion line on her laptop. I was leaning over to her so much that I nearly fell into her keyboard – how I’d love to do something like that!” Louisa used her Parachute session to make an action plan that included resuming some clothes-making, learning about Pinterest, researching courses, and meeting with people who work in the fashion industry. Here is what she had to say three months later: “I moved to a department at work that leaves me more time to pursue my other interests…I found a Saturday job at a vintage clothes shop and am now gaining first hand experience of fashion history, fittings, shopping psychology, and sales, and it has been great…I also signed up for a tailoring course in London and am part way through… I am really enjoying the detail and precision of pattern making, it’s like architecture and my 10 minutes of practice a day turns into 30 minutes, or often hours! I also completed a canoeing course over the summer, like a ‘fire-walk’ experience, to access my belief that I can learn anything with determination…I think my desire to pick courses as they suit me is in preparation for running my own business.”
Researching and following what we truly enjoy can be incredibly powerful. As soon as we take a decisive step in our chosen direction, new contacts, expansive ideas and hitherto unimagined resources often come our way.
I met up with Stella (56) two months after she attended a Parachute talk. She said that the following sentence from the presentation helped her change her life: “In order to change career one does not have to go back to school”. A team manager with over 20 years experience in a well-known prison, Stella had not dared dream of a career change, especially not ‘at her age’. And yet, there she was sitting opposite me, smiling over cup of tea after the first month in her new job as a beauty consultant. How did she do it? Soon after the Parachute talk, she walked into her favourite beauty outlet in town taking all her courage and enthusiasm with her. She asked for a meeting with the manger and conveyed her life-long fascination with cosmetics and skin care products, as well as her deep desire to make people feel beautiful. Two weeks later she was invited for interview and offered a job on the spot. I’m used to some good news in my line of work, but changing career within two months is a record by any standards! I felt both moved and honoured to witness this feat. Stella proceeded to tell me about her recent interactions with customers, e.g. how a mother brought her teenage daughter along who was upset and embarrassed by her skin problems. She offered the young woman a full make-over, and at the end both mother and daughter had tears in their eyes at the extent of her transformation. “I knew then that I’d make the right choice.”
The single most useful stance to take during the Parachute exploration is ‘allowing everything’. So, you think ‘travelling’ is not a skill because it’s too much fun and nobody pays you for it? Think again. Some people out there get paid for travelling as we speak. Put it on your list. Please. When we adopt an attitude of allowing, important information about ourselves arises like the soft flow of water meandering around rocks, e.g. our true values, the skills we really love, the people we actually want to work with, and so on. There is an abundance of jobs and job creation options awaiting us, once we know what we are looking for.
So, what are you really looking for? Bentinho Massaro reminds us that genuine excitement is the signal to go with. Excitement and enjoyment is a direct message from our ‘Higher Self’ to go in precisely the direction we feel excited about. Not excitement in the sense of fulfilling a passing fancy or an egotistical need, but fearlessly following what truly resonates within. That way, we not only serve ourselves but we inspire everyone around us to create a meaningful life. So, what excites you, what resonates so deeply that it will probably keep knocking on your door until you do something about it? After all, “this is your life you’re working on, your LIFE. Make it glorious.” (Richard Bolles, Job-Hunter’s Workbook 2012, p.76).